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Post  shawns13 on Thu 27 Apr 2017 - 10:23

Hi everyone,

I am new to SFG and I had a few questions.  I thought the compost section would be a good place to start asking my questions.

I have read through a lot of the other posts on here, but my first question is:
I understand that I need 5 types of compost to go into my MM, but how is it possible to keep a true 1/3 in your mix?  I understand it won't be exact, but if I add known cubic feet of peat moss and vermiculite, and then I have a mixture of 5 different types of compost on a tarp, how do you figure out how much is enough to cover the 1/3?

Also, reading the book it says to add compost to the beds during the season.  Is this just adding 1 type of compost or am I mixing up another 5 types and adding them to the beds as needed?

I live in CT and MM is $30 a bag for 1.5 cu ft.  I would need 4 to do a 4x4 bed.  It seems like I would spend more than $120 to do it myself and then throughout the year, it seems like I would have to buy more compost to keep on top of the beds if I don't start a compost pile myself.  Any thought's or suggestions on this?

Also, if you use the bags of MM, what am I adding throughout the season as far as compost in the beds?  Would I just grab extra bags of MM and add it to the beds throughout the season?

Any/all help would be much appreciated.  I realize that this may seem like I'm reading into this too much but I would rather have the knowledge and understanding to make the best decisions possible.

Thanks.
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Post  plantoid on Thu 27 Apr 2017 - 13:03

Get a small bucket say three gallons

 Use the bucket & the 15 measures rule to measure & get the right proportions / ratios for the mix .

Try to locate the materials in Mel's book shown in my strap lines as  they have been tried & tested . If you have difficulty in getting them ,  look in composting threads to find out what folk have successfully used .



 So :-

one bucket  of compost  "A"
one bucket  of compost  "B"
one bucket  of compost  "C"
one bucket  of compost  "D"
one bucket  of compost  "E"

five buckets of damped fluffed up peat

five buckets of coarse vermiculite
 

Mix it up however you feel like doing it .

 Total volume 15 buckets in total at the correct ratio of quality well made MM ( Mel's Mix) .




 Caution
Some commercially made  "  composts  " other than the ones Mel recommended tend to have a lot of wood based matter in them that is not composted to the best levels . They are best used as a weed reducing mulch or as a soil enhancer in clay or other difficult  ground .

If these commercial products are part of the local amenity recycling waste system you may unintentionally be bringing  a residual hormonal weed killer etc into you MM & you won't get very good cropping results.

 So , before you use an MM you've made up of with any of this type of material  in your beds as an initial filling  or top up's,  get a small tray of it & try to germinate peas that have been soaked in water for 24 hrs  & some damp radish seeds .  If they grow well it's OK to use in the beds , you've proved the quality of th mix .

If nothing grows through after say 14 days all is not lost for ever ..... you'll have a pile of useless waste that will take several years to lose the weed /plant killing content if it's left to weather in sun ,wind & rain out in the open for a three or four years .  Then of course you must do another proof of growing capability test .
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Post  sanderson on Thu 27 Apr 2017 - 19:00

Plantoid, I like the "15" measure rule. I changed the words 'material' to 'compost'

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Post  mlpii66 on Fri 28 Apr 2017 - 6:14

I found a local store that sells local compost.  I'm able to get chicken and steer manure and mushroom composts.  Still need to get my yard/garden waste compost working right, and kitchen waste composting going and I can have five different compost types!
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Post  trolleydriver on Mon 5 Jun 2017 - 9:06

Since I don't have enough home made compost, I had to go out and get store bought compost for use in my new SFG bed. I bought several varieties. When I checked the contents on the bags some have organic material listed at 15% and some at 28%. These are stated as MINIMUM amounts so who knows how much organic matter is actually in those bags and what do they mean exactly by organic matter. One thing for certain is that if you use these particular store bought composts to make up the one-third compost amount in the Mels' Mix, the actual ratios will be way off.  For this reason, I will reduce the amount of peat moss that I use in the MM by about 25% and increase the amount of compost accordingly. What makes the calculation a bit more difficult is when I add in my own home made compost to the 5 part compost mix. Anyway I try to err on the side of more compost and less peat moss.

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Post  sanderson on Mon 5 Jun 2017 - 21:08

I don't understand the labeling on the bags. ?? Compost is 100% organic matter. Where does peat moss fall in the order of ingredients?

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Post  trolleydriver on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 4:29

@sanderson wrote:I don't understand the labeling on the bags.  ??  Compost is 100% organic matter.  Where does peat moss fall in the order of ingredients?
Oh yikes!  Are you telling me that when it says minimum 15 percent organic matter that there may only be that much compost?  I'll have to check the contents again. Maybe I have been wrong this whole time.

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Post  sanderson on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 7:45

Post photos of the ingredients??

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Post  trolleydriver on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 8:03

@sanderson wrote:Post photos of the ingredients??
When (if) the cold rain and wind stop, I'll take some photos.

In the meantime, I have a phone call into one of the companies to try to find out what and how much "filler" is in their composted sheep manure. They are supposed to get back to me some time today.

Of course this compost ingredients thing has been discussed in the past on the forum as in ...
http://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t11386-is-bagged-compost-really-compost

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Post  trolleydriver on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 9:19

I fought through the wind, rain and cold and took three photos for three different bags of compost.  There is not really much information.

Store Bought Compost Img_3913

Store Bought Compost Img_3914

Store Bought Compost Img_3915

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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 10:47

@trolleydriver wrote:
@sanderson wrote:I don't understand the labeling on the bags.  ??  Compost is 100% organic matter.  Where does peat moss fall in the order of ingredients?
Oh yikes!  Are you telling me that when it says minimum 15 percent organic matter that there may only be that much compost?  I'll have to check the contents again. Maybe I have been wrong this whole time.
Is it percent organic matter being given, or percent organic matter of dry weight? (i.e. Is the issue that the water content isn't organic matter?) The numbers still don't quite add up, but sometimes there is sand and rocks included in manures, since those get scraped up along with the intended substance. I would think other cheap fillers like peat and wood would still count as organic matter.
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Post  Robbomb116 on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 11:20

I agree with beetles.  I think the % organic matter right now is wet,  since they also labeled the moisture content.  I'm guess they don't want you to let it dryout for months and then complain that it weighs half ad much as the bag says.   And that likely the amount of  100% - organic matter and moisture is probably sand, rocks and other debris that was collected inadvertently with the other ingredients. 

That's my interpretation anyway.
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Post  Turan on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 11:36

I don't know how to read the %s, but peat and humus are both organic matter and equivalents for measuring for MM.

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Post  sanderson on Tue 6 Jun 2017 - 21:17

TD, If you bought all the same compost, I would mix like 2 parts compost and 1 part vermiculite. Forget the peat moss as the humus and peat moss are the first 2 ingredients.

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Post  trolleydriver on Wed 7 Jun 2017 - 4:43

@sanderson wrote:TD,  If you bought all the same compost, I would mix like 2 parts compost and 1 part vermiculite.  Forget the peat moss as the humus and peat moss are the first 2 ingredients.
There is only one bag of so called shrimp compost that mentions the humus and peat moss. The other bags of sheep, cow, shrimp do not have those things listed. I think I'll leave out the one shrimp bag and use it elsewhere on the garden. I'm also going to sift my SoilSaver bin to see if I can extract some of my own compost plus I have a large plastic trash bin full of what I hope is compost extracted from the SoilSaver and the 3x3x3 earlier in the Spring. I'l probably still go light on the peat moss (i.e., 75% of the normal 1/3 in the MM) and up the compost.

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Post  Browndog on Tue 15 Aug 2017 - 11:13

To start. I'm rather forced to store bought compost. I don't have a pickup truck. Otherwise I could do alternative. Could still....but don't want many trips with containers in my car to haul. Now to the alternative...if you like...

A guy who talks about doing commercial backyard growing. He's big enough. He has this stuff hauled in with a dump truck. If you have a pickup truck. That would probably work out good. We still can...an alternative to store bought compost...

It's 1/2 cow manure, 1/2 tree bark. The bark you will buy in the store is probably already ruined. But bark that has been taken off trees when they're cut. That is full of healthy nutrients for plants. I suppose one could get this bark from where they cut trees. Should be all over the ground. Or from a saw mill operation? 
The wood that is in store bought compost. He says wood itself isn't good for growing. You want bark. From this, don't worry about wood in a compost pile either. Just mostly bark. Twigs and small limbs I assume are ok. Much of that is bark. 

Also the problem with compost from the landfill. They mix it with human waste. I don't think that's the greatest. Want manure from plant eating animals. 

Once the SFG is set up and going. Should be able to create plenty of compost to keep it going well.
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Post  Scorpio Rising on Tue 15 Aug 2017 - 18:24

You know what, Browndog, most if not all of us started out with store bought compost....it will be OK.  Might not be ideal, but I am here to tell ya, I have homemade in my mew mater bed, and it is FULL of foxtail grass.....so....apparently my pile isn't hot enough!

Live and learn!  You must keep notes though!  REALLY!!!  On everything Store Bought Compost 3170584802
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Post  sanderson on Tue 15 Aug 2017 - 18:36

@Browndog wrote:Also the problem with compost from the landfill. They mix it with human waste. I don't think that's the greatest. Want manure from plant eating animals. 
Not all composts use composted humanure / biosolids in their blend. The bag has to be labeled as such if they include it.

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Post  Browndog on Tue 15 Aug 2017 - 19:41

The landfill doesn't supply bags. They just load it. $5 a ton.
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Post  RoOsTeR on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 5:02

I realize no one has said bio's are bad on this thread but...

Is there any real science behind the claims that bio composts are bad? Or is it all just interwebs folklore? I know for a fact countless crops that feed thousands of people, are fertilized with bio composts. I've used bio composts with results when I've had to purchase compost. Is it just a personal choice to not use such? Fear? I like to base my decisions on fact. That tends to be better bet (at least for me) than following the current trends or interweb, garden lore. Many read things over and over again and consider it proof and or fact.
I'm not saying bio's are good. I'd just like to see adequate science that proves they are bad.

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Post  No_Such_Reality on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 7:21

Rooster, unfortunately, the research is really just beginning. In fact the EPA doesn't have criteria. https://www.epa.gov/wqc/contaminants-emerging-concern-including-pharmaceuticals-and-personal-care-products

The USGS has started some basic test and the results aren't promising.

https://toxics.usgs.gov/regional/emc/municipal_biosolids.html



  • Sampling biosolids to characterize occurrence of emerging contaminants. This investigation involved purchasing nine different biosolids and analyzing the samples for 87 organic chemicals found in cleaners, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and other products. The results of the analysis found 55 of the 87 organic chemicals measured were detected in at least one of the nine biosolid samples collected, with as many as 45 chemicals found in a single sample.
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Post  sanderson on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 9:59

NSR, I read the same statement.

Rooster, I'm more concerned about what humans ingest (medication, drugs) and garbage disposal products (with trace pesticides) that will pass through digesting and composting without breaking down. At one time in CA it was permitted for feed crops, only, i. e. alfalfa, oat hay, feed grass, etc.) I don't know what the status is at this time. Though in 3rd world countries it is still used. Well, making my own compost just feels, well, more reassuring. Razz

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Post  CapeCoddess on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 10:18

@sanderson wrote:NSR,  I read the same statement.

Rooster,  I'm more concerned about what humans ingest (medication, drugs) and garbage disposal products (with trace pesticides) that will pass through digesting and composting without breaking down.  At one time in CA it was permitted for feed crops, only, i. e. alfalfa, oat hay, feed grass, etc.)  I don't know what the status is at this time.  Though in 3rd world countries it is still used.  Well, making my own compost just feels, well, more reassuring.  Razz

Agree. While the jury is still out I'd rather trust my gut feeling & not use it. Heck, I won't even use animal manure unless it's from backyard chicken folks that I have drilled or wild critters. And even then I have to wonder...
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Post  Browndog on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 11:31

I agree with you all on the compost. I got what I got to start. But will be diligently building my own compost for in the future.
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Post  RoOsTeR on Wed 16 Aug 2017 - 12:25

@sanderson wrote:NSR,  I read the same statement.

Rooster,  I'm more concerned about what humans ingest (medication, drugs) and garbage disposal products (with trace pesticides) that will pass through digesting and composting without breaking down.  At one time in CA it was permitted for feed crops, only, i. e. alfalfa, oat hay, feed grass, etc.)  I don't know what the status is at this time.  Though in 3rd world countries it is still used.  Well, making my own compost just feels, well, more reassuring.  Razz

I'd always rather make my own as well. But I like to question what is just generally believed or preached to be bad. I've never seen any definitive proof that the use of such is causing a problem, or if it's just guessing. If trace elements are found in the growing medium, are they or have they been rendered inert? Are they taken up by plants and animals and passed on? If passed on, are they inert at that point?
study
or is it fake news thinking

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